Canadian Occupational Safety magazine celebrates women leading safety sector in 2021
After navigating a year of pandemic-related challenges, a Workplace Safety North staff member was recognized as one of Canada’s top 40 women leading the health and safety sector.
On May 3, Canadian Occupational Safety magazine announced its list of the country’s Top Women in Safety. Workplace Safety North’s own Angele Poitras, community engagement specialist, was among the 40 women highlighted. The issues faced by professionals in the health and safety sector in 2020 were unprecedented. To honour women currently leading the industry, Canadian Occupational Safety judges carefully vetted each nominee before selecting the top 40.
As Workplace Safety North’s community engagement specialist and psychological health and safety advisor certified by the Canadian Mental Health Association, Angele Poitras leads the development of mental health training and workshops and has created a number of courses. She guides organizations in effectively raising awareness and reducing stigma to help manage psychological risks, prevent mental harm, and start the mental health conversation. Poitras takes the lead as WSN launches a mental health suite of training products later this year.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Poitras had a knack for knowing what people were thinking and feeling, and created and facilitated a hugely successful workplace safety monthly webinar series, “COVID-19 Conversations,” that dealt with the adapting to the new normal, the importance of leadership in workplace culture, mental health and wellbeing, legal considerations, back-to-work planning, and resiliency. More than 900 people attended one of the six sessions, which were also featured in the media.
“The pandemic served to highlight the importance of mental health -- both at home and in the workplace,” says Poitras. “It was a crucial time to keep communication open, share experiences about what we were all going through, and it really helped people feel less alone and more in control.”
Poitras also helped create and promote a free community risk assessment template for safe needle pick-up. She ensured that WSN helped the Sudbury region face the opioid epidemic and by doing so created a health and safety resource that could be used by all communities. Developed by Workplace Safety North (WSN) in partnership with Sudbury Action Centre for Youth (SACY), the risk template is available free of charge to all communities.
For the past two years, Poitras created and facilitated a student artwork challenge in northern Ontario high schools to help raise awareness of mental health and workplace safety. In 2020, two Thunder Bay high schools participated, and the virtual gallery of original artwork was unveiled to about 200 virtual delegates at the launch of the WSN COVID-19 Conversations lunch and learn webinar series.
“Angele has been involved in a number of health and safety initiatives across the province,” says Paul Andre, WSN President and CEO. “She provides information, events, and resources of a timely and topical nature. People from all walks of life -- young to old, in both workplaces and the community -- have commented on the helpfulness of the material. Her unique combination of experience and compassion make her contributions to workplace health and safety in 2020 very powerful and effective. We are all very proud of Angele and grateful to have her as a colleague.”
Workplace Safety North (WSN) is one of four sector-based health and safety associations in Ontario. Headquartered in northern Ontario, WSN provides province-wide, Ministry-approved workplace health and safety training and services for the mining and forest products industries.